‘It brings back painful memories of the colonial past’: India’s governing party backs plans to axe the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond from Camilla’s coronation crown

  • Queen Consort was due to be crowned with coronet containing the famous 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond
  • The diamond is one of largest cut in history and is in Queen Mother’s crown along with 2,800 small diamonds
  • Priceless 105-carat jewel was given as a gift to Queen Victoria by Duleep Singh and set in the crown in 1937
  • However the diamond’s ownership is a controversial topic and it has been claimed by India and other nations
  • Mail+ understands that there is ‘significant nervousness’ about using the gem as part of Camilla’s coronation
  • The gem may be taken out of the crown and replaced or the piece of regalia not used at all during ceremony
  • A spokesperson for India’s ruling party said that using gem could bring back ‘painful memories’ of colonialism

Using the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond in Camilla’s crown could bring back ‘painful memories’ of British colonialism, officials from India’s governing party claimed last night.

The controversial jewel is set to feature in the coronation of King Charles next year, with the Queen Consort set to wear the late Queen Mother’s crown at the ceremony.

The priceless piece features 2,800 diamonds with the front cross holding the famous 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world.

The huge diamond originated from India and was given to Queen Victoria by the last Sikh emperor of India – who at the time was 10-years old.

But the gifting of the diamond is disputed and there are claims in at least three countries, including India, to have the jewel returned.

Last night, Mail+ exclusively revealed that the use of the diamond could be axed because of ‘political sensitivities’  and ‘significant nervousness’ about the controversy over its ownership.

The precious gem, which is part of the famed Crown Jewels, could instead be replaced with another stone. Royal sources insisted no official decision had yet been made.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party in India has now weighed into the argument, suggesting that its use in the coronation could ‘transport a few Indians back to the days of the British Empire’.

 ‘The coronation of Camilla and the use of the crown jewel Koh-i-Noor brings back painful memories of the colonial past,’ said a party spokesperson to The Telegraph.

‘Most Indians have very little memory of the oppressive past. Five to six generations of Indians suffered under multiple foreign rules for over five centuries.

‘Recent occasions, like Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the coronation of the new Queen Camilla and the use of the Koh-i-Noor do transport a few Indians back to the days of the British Empire in India.’

Plans for the Queen Consort to be crowned using regalia  (pictured: The Queen Mother’s Crown on her coffin while she lie in state in 2002) containing the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond may be axed because of ‘political sensitivities’, it has been reported

When the King (pictured here with Camilla during the State Opening of Parliament in 2015) first raised the issue of his wife taking her place by his side at his coronation several years ago it was provisionally agreed that she would be proclaimed Queen Consort using the late Queen Mother’s crown, according to Mail+ 

When the King first raised the issue of his wife taking her place by his side at his coronation several years ago it was provisionally agreed that she would be proclaimed Queen Consort using the late Queen Mother’s crown. 

The gem (pictured), which is held in a detachable platinum mount, may now be taken out of the crown before use – or the crown not even used at all in favour of something simpler, such as Queen Victoria’s coronet

However Mail+ has learnt that there is ‘significant nervousness’ about this now given continuing controversy over ownership of the diamond, which originated in India and is claimed not only by the republic but also several other countries in the region.

The gem, which is held in a detachable platinum mount, may now be taken out of the crown before use – or the crown not even used at all in favour of something simpler, such as Queen Victoria’s coronet.

A source said: ‘The original plan was for the Queen Consort to be crowned with the late Queen Mother’s crown when her husband acceded to the throne.

That was certainly the agreement a few years ago when the whole idea of the Duchess of Cornwall becoming Queen Consort was first mooted.

‘But times have changed and His Majesty The King is acutely sensitive to these issues, as are his advisors. There are serious political sensitivities and significant nervousness around them, particularly regarding India.’

Buckingham Palace declined to comment today. Meanwhile, a royal last night told The Times that the jewel had not been ‘problematic’ before, but that those planning the coronation were ‘acutely aware of reflecting tradition’ while ‘being sensitive to the issues around today’.

‘At this stage it’s entirely possible that the Koh-i-Noor will be in or out. Bluntly, people will be wondering whether the really want a row over a diamond right now.’ 

Announcing the dating of next year’s coronation as May 6, palace officials said yesterday that further details about the coronation – which will incorporate a mix of the traditional and the modern – would be announced in due course.

But the issue of regalia – particularly the Queen Consort’s crown – is likely to prove a sticking point.

Queen Elizabeth (pictured here with the late Queen, her sister Margaret and King George VI) wore the crown without its arches at the State Openings of Parliament during the reign of King George VI, and again at the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953

The Koh-i-Noor diamond: A priceless gifted gem at the center of one of the world’s most famous crowns – and an international row

The Koh-i-Noor, translated from Persian to English as the ‘Mountain of Light, is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world.

It weighs an astonishing 21g (105carats). However it is significantly smaller than the world’s largest cut diamond, the Cullinan I, also one of the famed Crown Jewels, which is mounted on the Sovereign’s Scepter, which weighs 530.4 carats (106.08 g).

Though there is no official record of its original weight, the Koh-i-Noor may have weighed as much as 38.2g (186 carats), before it was cut, according to well-attested reports.

It is impossible to know exactly where the diamond came from, although there is no doubt that it was panned in India. The earliest reference appears to relate to a powerful Mughal ruler in 1628.

The first verifiable report of the diamond, however, comes from the 1740s when it was noted as being one of many stones on the Mughal Peacock Throne, which was looted by the Iranian Afsharid leader Nader Shah from Delhi.  

It returned to India in 1813 and become a potent symbol of power until it was acquired by Britain in 1849.

The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1855 by 10 year-old Duleep Singh, the last emperor of the Sikhs. 

Although much has been made of the fact that it was ‘given’ to this country, critics point out that this was only after the mother of the ten-year old heir to the Punjabi throne was held prisoner and he was forced to sign it away.

It then became a special possession of Queen Victoria and displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

However, British people were reportedly unimpressed by the gem. ‘Many people find a difficulty in bringing themselves to believe, from its external appearance, that it is anything but a piece of common glass,’ wrote the Times in 1851. 

Since then it has become part of the Crown Jewels, and a point of dispute between the UK, India – as well as several other nations – ever since.

William Dalrymple, who co-wrote Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond with colleague Anita Anand said: ‘It is not a small sensitive issue in the eyes of India. It is a massive diplomatic grenade.’

‘One of the reasons we wrote our book was that we don’t believe anyone in this country has the slightest conception of how much it matters in India. For people here it is the name of an Indian restaurant or a brand of pencils or maybe something they have seen on a school trip to the Tower of London.’

It was made in 1937 for Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, using many stones already in the royal collection. Most of the diamonds were removed from Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet.

The Koh-i-noor diamond had been successively mounted in the crowns of Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, and was once again reset for this crown.

Queen Elizabeth wore the crown without its arches at the State Openings of Parliament during the reign of King George VI, and again at the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

It is impossible to know exactly where the diamond came from, although there is no doubt that it was panned in India. The earliest reference appears to relate to a powerful Mughal ruler in 1628.

It returned to India in 1813 and become a potent symbol of power until it was acquired by Britain in 1849.

The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1855 by 10 year-old Duleep Singh, last emperor of the Sikhs. 

Although much has been made of the fact that it was ‘given’ to this country, critics point out that this was only after the mother of the ten-year old heir to the Punjabi throne was held prisoner and he was forced to sign it away.

It then became a special possession of Queen Victoria and displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

Since then it has become part of the Crown Jewels, and point of dispute between the UK, India – as well as several other nations – ever since.

William Dalrymple, who co-wrote Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond with colleague Anita Anand said: ‘It is not a small sensitive issue in the eyes of India. 

‘It is a massive diplomatic grenade.’

‘One of the reasons we wrote our book was that we don’t believe anyone in this country has the slightest conception of how much it matters in India.

‘For people here it is the name of an Indian restaurant or a brand of pencils or maybe something they have seen on a school trip to the Tower of London.

‘But it is actually part of a wider disconnect of a number of things that Indians get very upset about to do with the colonial period.

‘The diamond has been claimed by Pakistani, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and also the Taliban. It is a hugely sensitive and much claimed stone. 

‘It matters to a huge number of people and has continued to be very controversial since the Queen died.

‘There is an expectation that this is an issue that will come back. Colonialism is over, Britain wants to make friends with India, it is a major new rising power.

‘In a sense the British have brought this on themselves because they turned the stone into a symbol of their empire by putting it on display in the Great Exhbition of 1851.

‘It has [since] become, rightly or wrongly, a symbol for many colonised people of all they think that we took from them. Whatever your position on it, that is how it’s viewed.

‘This tiny stone, which is actually not that big – in fact, and it’s not even in the top 100 of the worlds diamonds any more – has come to take the whole weight of colonisation on its shoulder. It it has become this very, very sensitive object and is a major issue now between the two countries. ‘

The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1855 by 10 year-old Duleep Singh, last emperor of the Sikhs. It is now in the Crown of the Queen Mother and rests in

It then became a special possession of Queen Victoria and displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. Since then it has become part of the Crown Jewels, and point of dispute between the UK, India – as well as several other nations – ever since

When has the Koh-i-Noor been seen in public?

The Koh-i-Noor diamond was brought back to Britain after being gifted to Queen Victoria. It was first displayed publicly at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

However, British people were reportedly unimpressed by the gem. 

‘Many people find a difficulty in bringing themselves to believe, from its external appearance, that it is anything but a piece of common glass,’ wrote the Times in 1851.

In reaction to the jewel’s disappointing reception, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, had the stone recut and polished – a process that reduced its size by half but made it refract more brilliantly from its surface.

Initially, Victoria wore the diamond as a brooch in public, before it became part of the Crown Jewels. It was mounted in the crown of Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, before later being mounted on the crown of Queen Mary, the wife of George V.

But it found its current place in 1937, when it was mounted front and centre of the Queen Mother’s crown, ahead of George VI’s coronation. The Queen Mother was seen wearing the crown as she waved to crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace following the event. 

The crown made its last public appearance in 2002, resting atop of the coffin of the Queen Mother for her funeral.

It is usually displayed at the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels collection, alongside the Sovereign Scepter with Cross, which contains the world’s largest diamond, the Cullinan I, and Imperial State Crown, which holds the Cullinan II.

Saurav Dutt, author and political commentator, told the Mail that any decision to include the diamond in next year’s coronation ceremony would ‘fly in the face’ of any attempt by the Royal Family ‘to draw a line under imperialism’.

He claimed: ‘Ensuring the Koh-i-Noor remains front and centre in the public eye in this way flies in the face of any attempt by the Royal Family and political orthodoxies to draw a line under the dispossession, prejudice, plunder and exploitation that imperialism revelled in.

‘Such a position is at odds with the modern, egalitarian stance the Royals seek to present themselves within a world that seeks to move on from the ugliest chapters of history that they benefited from.’

He added: ‘In a pluralistic modern British society, the exhibitionism of this diamond in this way can only serve to outrage and remind society of the usurious relationship between India and Britain.

‘Such a position is untenable as both parties strive to cut lucrative trade deals post-Brexit.

‘From a public relations point of view, the unsavoury optics of cavorting around with this looted artifact must be outweighed by fostering improved relations between the ruler and the ruled.’

It comes as Downing Street says it is considering ‘all options’ to mark King Charles III’s Coronation with a bank holiday amid growing calls for Britons to be given a special long weekend to mark next May’s event.

The new monarch and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned at an historic ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Saturday May 6 next year.

MPs have suggested the occasion could be marked by moving the early May bank holiday one week later to Monday May 8.

Some have even called for an extra bank holiday on top of the eight that are already scheduled for next year – those being January 2, April 7, April 10, May 1, May 29, August 28, December 25 and December 28.

Labour today said moving the early May day off would be a ‘good idea’, while Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said a bank holiday would be ‘appropriate’ to mark the ‘splendid historic’ event.

No10 said the Government was ‘carefully considering’ the issue amid the clamour for a three-day weekend to celebrate the Coronation. 

Prime Minister Liz Truss’s official spokesman said: ‘Obviously this will be a historic event. We are carefully considering our plans. All options remain on the table.’

Labour backed moving the May bank holiday to coincide with the Westminster Abbey event.

‘That would certainly be a good way for the country to be able to celebrate the Coronation,’ said a spokesman for party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

‘Moving the May bank holiday that there is for that weekend would be a good idea.’

Earlier, Mr Rees-Mogg had said a bank holiday would be ‘appropriate’ to mark the ‘splendid historic’ occasion.

He told the BBC: ‘I think that having a bank holiday for a coronation seems to me to be an eminently suitable thing to do. But there is a process that has to be gone through and it has to be approved ultimately by the Privy Council.

‘When I was Lord President of the Council we had to approve bank holidays even when Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, to move it to the Monday.

‘So bank holidays go through a splendid historic process, which I suppose is only appropriate for a splendid historic occasion like the Coronation.’

Which countries claims the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, and why? 

India

India has the strongest claim to the Koh-i-Noor diamond. It is believed to have been mined from the Kollur Mine on the south bank of the Krishna River in central eastern India. 

The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1855 by 10 year-old Duleep Singh, the last emperor of the Sikhs. 

Although much has been made of the fact that it was ‘given’ to this country, critics point out that this was only after the mother of the ten-year old heir to the Punjabi throne was held prisoner and he was forced to sign it away.

India has long campaigned for the return of the diamond, following its independence from British colonialism in 1947.  In 1976 Britain refused a request to cede the diamond, citing the terms of the Anglo-Sikh peace treaty.

And it has been a bone of contention between the British and Indian governments. During a 2010 visit to India, then British prime minister, David Cameron, told local media that the diamond would stay in Britain.

He said:  ‘If you say yes to one [request], you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty,’ Cameron said. ‘I’m afraid it’s going to have to stay put.’ 

Narendra Modi’s government attempted to put an end to the dispute in 2016 during a Supreme Court case on whether India should call for its return.

‘It was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away,’ India’s solicitor general, Ranjit Kumar, told the court at the time. However the government then appeared to row back on the comments, saying that India’s government would make all possible efforts to bring back the diamond.

The Indian Supreme Court in 2017 dismissed a petition asking it to bring back to India. Calls for the diamond to be returned to India remerged last month following the Queen’s death. 

Social media users called for its return, with Venkatesh Shukla starting a petition aiming to get 1 million signatures on LinkedIn, reminding the ‘honourable country’ UK to return the ‘loot’. 

Pakistan 

Pakistan also claims the Koh-i-Noor. It claims the diamond was mined from a territory that became Pakistan after the separation of India and Pakistan following independent in 1947. 

The diamond was originally owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty, which had installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye.

Reportedly, in 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated.

The Koh-i-Noor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore. The properties of the Sikh Empire were taken as war compensations.

In 2016, barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffry made Pakistan’s claim to Lahore High Court in Pakistan. The court accepted a petition seeking direction to the government to bring back Koh-i-Noor from Britain. 

In 2019 Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry called for the diamond’s return, saying it should be returned to Lahore museum.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan also has a claim to the Koh-i-Noor, according to The Taliban, who claim it is the country’s property. Back in 2000, the group demanded its return, saying that the Queen should hand back the gem ‘as soon as possible’ so that it can be displayed in Kabul.

The then Taliban’s foreign affairs spokesman, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, said that the diamond was the ‘legitimate property’ of Afghanistan.

‘The history of the diamond shows it was taken from us to India, and from there to Britain. We have a much better claim than the Indians,’ he said.

The diamond was taken by Mughal emperor Nader Shah from Delhi in the 1700s. And when Shah was assassinated in 1747, the diamond was taken by Afghan general Ahmad Shah Abdali and taken to Kabul. 

It was passed down to his son and grandson, Shah Shuja al-Mulk. When King Shah Shuja was deposed, he apparently gave the gem in 1813 to the man who freed him from prison, Dalip Singh’s father, Maharajah Ranjit Singh.

The Taliban say Singh, the governor of Lahore, stole the gem and returned it to India.

Iran

Like Afghanistan, Iran claims the Koh-i-Noor through Nader Shah. Shah, who was from modern-day Iran, was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty, which at its prime covered much of the Persian peninsula, modern day Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, parts of central Asia and even up towards Georgia.

Shah, who looted the gem from India, then had it taken from him after his assassination.  

If the Koh-i-Noor diamond symbolises anything, it’s that history is complex. By removing it from the Coronation, we’d be rushing down a slippery slope writes PROFESSOR ROBERT TOMBS

By Professor Robert Tombs for the Daily Mail 

Like the flicker of fire within a diamond, the prospect of a glorious Coronation for King Charles next spring is a sparkle of light in these gloomy times. 

Something truly unique in the national calendar, a ceremonial event no other country in the world can match. This ought to be an uplifting prospect, one to unite the country and banish our woes.

How miserable it is, then — albeit sadly predictable — that a tiny minority of voices are already tarnishing the occasion by kicking up a fuss about one stone: that fabulous but controversial diamond, the Koh-i-Noor, meaning ‘the Mountain of Light’.

One of the grandest and most valuable gemstones in the world, it is the centrepiece of the dazzling Queen Mother crown.

According to royal sources, it had been the King’s long-held ambition, since he married Camilla in 2005, that she would wear this crown on his Coronation day.

In doing so, she would follow in the longstanding tradition set by Charles’s grandmother, Elizabeth; by King George VI’s mother, Queen Mary, before her; and by Queen Alexandra in 1902.

As the Mail reports today, all signs suggest that tradition is now to be broken, with a different crown having to be selected instead — all thanks to the agitation of a motley crew of woke obsessives.

Duleep Singh travelled to Britain alone and presented the Koh-i-Noor gemstone to Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria felt uncomfortable wearing the  stone due to its curse and rarely wore it apart from as a brooch (pictured)

The inevitable next step will likely be a clamour for the diamond to be ‘returned’ to India, from where it was mined — in spite of the absence of any good historical reason, and regardless of the risks posed by setting such a precedent.

The Koh-i Noor, meaning ‘the Mountain of Light’ is one of the grandest and most valuable gemstones in the world. It is the centrepiece of the dazzling Queen Mother crown (pictured)

To those who hate Britain and its history, the campaign is a simple one: they see the West as responsible for all the evils of the world, with the British Empire most guilty of all. And thus, any trace of that tainted past must be banished from our social fabric.

It is a campaign that has nothing to do with real history, and everything to do with the political agenda of today’s liberal Establishment.

In their version of reality, slavery and imperial exploitation underpin all the UK’s wealth and government. They claim Britain’s culture is founded on racism and that we must all be punished for the sins of the past.

And, worryingly, their influence over public institutions — from our museums, to academia and even our statues and street names — is growing fast, as this latest debacle over the Koh-i- Noor demonstrates.

Let me be clear: we must resist this pernicious nonsense.

The Palace’s likely decision to remove the diamond from the Coronation is, in my opinion, deeply worrying. Because, once we concede that one artefact is a symbol of national guilt, we’ll soon be rushing down a slippery slope.

The reality of the past is infinitely more complex than the woke mob would have you believe, of course.

History is steeped in injustice, slaughter, robbery and brutal power grabs. But it was never one-sided. To lay all the blame on one nation, or one race, is dishonest, especially when it also means denying the good that was done in the process.

My lifelong hope has been that, through a deeper understanding of the past, we will learn to make the present better.

The Palace’s likely decision to remove the diamond from the Coronation is, in my opinion, deeply worrying 

It truly saddens me to see ignorant or cynical partisans spreading falsehood under the cloak of history.

The best antidote is to examine the facts. And the facts about the Koh-i-Noor are particularly fascinating.

This enormous stone has been rumoured for centuries to bear a curse, first recorded by a court chronicler in 1628, when the diamond was set at the top of the Mughal Shah Jahan’s throne. This jewel-encrusted seat of power was sculpted to resemble a peacock with its brilliant tail spread like a kaleidoscopic fan.

It took an army of craftsmen seven years to make. The Koh-i-Noor, the size of a small hen’s egg and weighing just over 105.6 carats (21.2g, or about three quarters of an ounce) glowed in the bird’s head. Probably discovered about 1,000 years ago in the Kollur Mine in southern India, it is one of the world’s biggest gems.

According to royal sources, it had been the King’s long-held ambition, since he married Camilla in 2005, that she would wear this crown on his Coronation day. Pictured: Charles and Camilla attend the State Opening of Parliament in 2015

Queen Elizabeth (pictured here with the late Queen, her sister Margaret and King George VI) wore the crown without its arches at the State Openings of Parliament during the reign of King George VI, and again at the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953

Coronation oil’s traditional recipe ‘is cruel to African cats’ with it extracted in ‘traumatic and painful’ process 

The Palace is under pressure over its traditional recipe for the oil used in coronations, because its ingredients are linked to cruelty to African cats.

When King Charles III is crowned next May, he will be anointed with the liquid, which historically includes oil extracted from civets. 

Welfare groups say the substance is taken from the animals’ glands in a ‘traumatic and painful’ process, during which some starve to death.

It puts pressure on the eco-credentials of the new King, who is president of the World Wildlife Fund and patron of the Wildlife Trusts.

The ancient recipe for the oil includes orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, benzoin, civet oil and ambergris, a wax-like material from the stomach of a sperm whale.

Although the latter is coughed up and collected on beaches, civet cats are often caged and kept in appalling conditions to glean their musk.

A World Animal Protection investigation found that civets were caught in the wild and held in containers the size of cat boxes for up to 15 years in Ethiopia. 

They are kept next to a fire as the smoky, hot environment improves the amount of musk produced. The musk is extracted every nine to 15 days, with the animals being pinned by the neck while the oil is squeezed from the glands at the base of their tail.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on King Charles to intervene to remove the substance from the ancient recipe.

Buckingham Palace has said the Coronation will combine the ancient and modern, adding that it will be ‘rooted in longstanding traditions’. 

Somehow or other, in its half-forgotten past, a curse emerged from Hindu legend: ‘He who owns this diamond will own the world but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.’

Just over a century later, in 1739, the Shah of Persia invaded India. After a battle that left 30,000 dead, he plundered the Mughal’s treasury and carried off the throne —along with so much gold, silk and other riches that it took 700 elephants, 4,000 camels and 12,000 horses to transport it all.

Then, in 1813, the diamond changed hands again, when it was siezed by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh, styled the Maharajah of Lahore and the Lion of the Punjab. He died when his son, Duleep, was just five years old and, although his widow vainly attempted to hold his empire together, wars broke out.

By 1849, the British ruled the Punjab, and the Koh-i-Noor, sealed inside an iron safe within a red despatch box, was brought to the UK.

Contrary to George MacDonald Fraser’s hilarious 1990 novel Flashman And The Mountain Of Light — in which the protagonist smuggles the diamond and Duleep Singh out of India — Duleep travelled to Britain alone, and presented the gem to Queen Victoria personally.

The Queen, however, never much liked the stone. Neither did the general public. When it went on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851 an editorial in The Times complained that it looked like ‘a piece of common glass’.

Prince Albert ordered it to be recut, increasing its brilliance but reducing its size. But Queen Victoria, who could be superstitious, felt uncomfortable wearing it because of the curse.

She rarely touched it, though sometimes wore it as a brooch and ordered it should become part of the Crown Jewels on her death —with the stipulation that no man must ever wear it.

If the Koh-i-Noor symbolises anything, it is that history is a complex business. Anyone casting an eye over the corkscrew provenance of the diamond will be struck by one question: if Britain does not own it, then who does?

The previous owners were the Sikh despot Ranjit and his family. But he was also ruler of Lahore, which is now the second largest city in Pakistan.

Does the diamond belong by rights to Sikhs in India, or to modern-day Pakistan?

Before Ranjit seized the diamond, it had been the property of the Persians in the mountain territories that now form part of Afghanistan. Perhaps the Taliban could have a claim over the Koh-i-Noor?

Plans for the Queen Consort to be crowned using regalia  (pictured: The Queen Mother’s Crown on her coffin while she lie in state in 2002) containing the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond may be axed because of ‘political sensitivities’, it has been reported

Right at the start of this great tale, the Mughal Shah Jahan’s peacock throne stood in Delhi, which is partly why some people insist the diamond belongs to India —although the Mughals were Muslim, and India is now run by a Hindu nationalist government.

But the fact is that giving away this priceless jewel to Delhi would do no practical good to the billion or more inhabitants of India.

It would, however, mark a hammering humiliation for Britain — and it would endanger innumerable other national treasures.

Hand over the Koh-i-Noor, and we would have no logical defence against campaigns to give the Elgin Marbles to Athens, the Benin Bronzes to West Africa, the Rosetta Stone to Egypt, and much more.

Collections would be scattered to the four corners of the earth. Museums would be stripped. Academics would lose the chance to study the most intriguing objects ever found.

Millions of ordinary people who flock to museums from around the world would never have the chance to see them.

And then, what next? The mob would turn on the next perceived historic ‘wrong’ — likely something they have yet even to think of — and destroy that, too.

But the fact is, however much blood has been spilt over the Koh-i-Noor, as it changed hands throughout the centuries, the wrongs of the past can never be destroyed.

History, infinitely cruel and murderous, cannot be re-written.

We must respect the facts and stop this childish pretence that all the blame lies in the present. 

Robert Tombs is Professor Emeritus of French History and fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.

King Charles’s coronation will be at Westminster Abbey on Saturday May 6: Monarch and Queen Consort Camilla will both be crowned in ceremony lasting just ONE hour on Harry and Meghan’s son Archie’s fourth birthday – but there’s NO promise of a Bank Holiday

By Inderdeep Bains, Deputy Chief Reporter for the Daily Mail and Matthew Lodge for MailOnline

King Charles’ Coronation will take place on May 6 next year with the Queen Consort being crowned alongside him, Buckingham Palace has revealed.

The new monarch will be officially crowned in what is expected to be a scaled back version of the ancient ceremony lasting just one hour and conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey.

The event, which will see the eyes of the world once more turn onto the Britain, is set to take place on a Saturday scuppering the hopes of many who might have wished for a bank holiday to mark the occasion, as insiders claim it is ‘unlikely’ extra time off will be given.

It will also take place on the fourth birthday of Harry and Meghan’s son, Archie, potentially causing a clash in the Sussex household if the King’s second son is invited to the ceremony as is expected.

King Charles, 73, is said to want a more modest affair than is tradition with the event being cut down to less than an hour, the guest list slashed by a three quarters and a less formal dress code.

‘The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,’ the Palace confirmed as it revealed the date.

The announcement comes amid much speculation that the momentous occasion is being slimmed down amid the cost of living crisis and to make way for a more streamlined, modern monarchy.

Palace insiders said that while the Coronation will include the same core elements of the traditional ceremony which has retained a similar structure for more than 1,000 years, it would recognise the ‘spirit of our times’.

It is expected to be much ‘smaller and simpler’ than the three-hour spectacle of the late Queen’s momentous Coronation in 1953.

Charles, then Prince of Wales, at the ceremonial state opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster on May 10, 2022

Palace insiders said that while the Coronation will include the same core elements of the traditional ceremony which has retained a similar structure for more than 1,000 years, it would recognise the ‘spirit of our times’. It is expected to be much ‘smaller and simpler’ than the three-hour spectacle of the late Queen’s momentous Coronation in 1953 (Pictured: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her coronation dress and Robe of Estate holding the spectre and orb and and wearing the Imperial State Crown)

The Gold State Coach is seen on The Mall during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in front of Buckingham Palace on June 5, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II receives the homage of her husband Prince Philip at her coronation in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from Buckingham Palace on June 2, 1953 after her coronation in London

Royal fans wait on The Mall in London in the rain on June 1, 1953 for an all-night vigil ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

Prince Charles looks solemn as he stands chin on hand between the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in the Royal Box at Westminster Abbey, from where he saw Queen Elizabeth II crowned on June 2, 1953

Plans for the major event are known by the codename Operation Golden Orb, which sets out the blueprint for the service and the pageantry surrounding it.

They are expected to see the guestlist slashed from 8,000 to just 2,000 with a more relaxed dress code with peers possibly allowed to wear lounge suits rather than ceremonial robes.

What will happen stage by stage at King Charles’s coronation in May 2023

The crowning of a sovereign is one of the most ancient ceremonies, and is deeply religious and steeped in pageantry.

The Crown Jewels’ coronation regalia will play a starring role when the King is crowned on Saturday May 6 next year in Westminster Abbey.

There are six basic phases to the coronation: The recognition, the oath, the anointing, the investiture which includes the crowning, the enthronement and the homage. Here is what is expected to happen:

Recognition: This rite dates back to ancient procedures of the Witan – the supreme council of England in Anglo-Saxon times. The sovereign stands in the theatre – the central space in Westminster Abbey – and turns to show himself ‘unto the people’ at each of the four directions – east, south, west and north. The Archbishop of Canterbury will proclaim Charles the ‘undoubted King’ and ask the congregation and choir to show their homage and service by crying out ‘God Save King Charles’, with the order of service urging them to do so with ‘willingness and joy’.

Coronation Oath: The form and wording of the oath has varied over the centuries. The King will promise to reign according to law, exercise justice with mercy and maintain the Church of England. The King, with the Sword of State carried before him, will go to the altar and declare: ‘The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.’ He will kiss the Bible and sign the Oath.

The Anointing: After the oath, the sovereign is then ‘anointed, blessed and consecrated’ by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The anointing with holy oil is the central act of the religious ceremony. The King will remove his crimson robe and sit in King Edward’s chair, which was made in 1300 and has been used by every monarch since 1626, under a canopy of silk or cloth of gold held by four Knights of the Garter.

The archbishop will use the golden eagle-shaped ampulla – which pours the oil from its beak – and the 12th century silver-gilt anointing spoon which is the most ancient treasure of the Crown Jewels, to anoint the King in the form of a cross. Traditionally the choir sings the anthem Zadok The Priest at the anointing is carried out. Under the chair is expected to be the Stone of Destiny. The ancient, sacred symbol of Scotland’s monarchy which was once captured by King Edward I of England now only leaves Edinburgh Castle for coronations.

Investiture including the Crowning: Having been sanctified, the sovereign puts on a sleeveless white garment – the Colobium Sindonis – and then a robe of cloth of gold – the Supertunica. The King is presented with a jewelled sword and the golden spurs – the symbol of chivalry – and the armills – golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom.

He will put on the Robe Royal of gold cloth and will be presented with the orb, the coronation ring on the fourth finger of his right hand, the sceptre and the rod. Then Charles, sitting in King Edward’s Chair, will be crowned by the archbishop with St Edward’s Crown, with the congregation shouting out ‘God Save the King’.

Enthroning: After a blessing, the King will go to his throne and be ‘lifted up into it by the archbishops and bishops, and other peers of the kingdom’.

Homage: The archbishop, royal blood princes – likely to include the Prince of Wales – and senior peers pay homage to the monarch, placing their hands between the King’s and swearing allegiance, touching the crown and kissing the King’s right hand. The House of Commons does not pay homage.

The Queen’s Coronation: Camilla as Queen Consort will also be crowned, in a similar but simpler ceremony which follows the Homage. After Charles’s marriage to Camilla, the royal family’s website added the get-out clause ‘unless decided otherwise’ to the phrase: ‘A Queen consort is crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony.’

At George VI’s coronation, Queen Elizabeth was anointed and crowned. She knelt down with the archbishop pouring holy oil on the crown of her head, and the Queen’s Ring was placed on her hand, and her crown on her head. Her coronation crown was made especially for the 1937 coronation and features the famous but controversial Koh-i-noor diamond. She was presented with a sceptre and the ivory rod with the dove, before rising to sit in her own throne, after bowing ‘reverently’ to her husband.

Ancient and time-consuming rituals – including presenting the monarch with gold ingots – are also set to be axed to save time.

However, the Prince of Wales is expected to play a prominent role in the occasion – the first time an heir will participate in the proceedings in three generations.

Charles was just four when his mother was crowned and the late Queen was 11 at the time of her father’s coronation – as children neither played a formal role.

In contrast Prince William – aged 40 and a full-fledged working royal – is expected to be an eminent figure at the event.

The Coronation is being held slightly earlier than was anticipated – it was first rumoured to be taking place on the 70th anniversary of the late Queen’s coronation in June.

It is also taking place on a Saturday – Coronations have not traditionally been held on a weekend with the late Queen’s held on a Tuesday.

It is believed to be unlikely there will be a bank holiday to allow the nation to celebrate, with the royal household and the government said to be mindful of the potential cost to the economy amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Guest lists have yet to be confirmed for the spectacle, including whether or not the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be invited or be able to travel from California to attend.

The date clashes with the birthday of their son Archie – Charles’s grandson – who will be turning four on the day.

The date was also the wedding anniversary of the late Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, while the King’s grandfather George VI held his coronation in the month of May.

Charles is expected to sign a proclamation formally declaring the date of the coronation at a meeting of the Privy Council later this year.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams says the date itself will have been chosen after consultation with ‘the Government, the Church of England and the Royal Household’.

He said: ‘May 6th is also the birthday of Archie, the son of Harry and Meghan, who will be four on that date. King Charles was four when he attended the coronation in 1953, which was very young, but he was the future king and it was important for him to attend.

‘It is a fact that since their departure Harry and Meghan have never taken any notice if their events clashed with the activities of other members of the royal family. Also, titles, which should automatically be given to both Archie and Lili under the 1917 Protocols have still to be confirmed. The fact that the date is also Archie’s birthday means a good deal of attention will be given to all this by the press.

‘The event, the first coronation for over 70 years in the last major country in Europe to have one, will undoubtedly be magnificent. Obviously it will be very different from its predecessor in 1953 and it will be exciting to read how in the coming months. This is a pivotal event in the world’s most high profile monarchy and hopefully the Sussexes will be happy to attend as Harry’s father, the longest serving Prince of Wales in history, is finally crowned king.’

The King acceded to the throne on September 8, immediately on the death of his mother, Elizabeth II – the nation’s longest reigning monarch.

The late Queen’s coronation was a carnival of celebration and a morale boost for a nation starved of pageantry in the wake of the Second World War.

Royal watchers had hoped for a similar display of pomp which would draw in viewers and visitors from around the globe.

But King Charles is said to favour a simpler ceremony to reflect his wish for a slimmed-down, modern monarchy, while retaining some of the drama and dignity that accompanied the Queen’s funeral.

But Palace insiders have insisted that the smaller ceremony will not be devoid or pageantry.

During the ancient Ceremony, the Sovereign is ‘anointed, blessed and consecrated’ by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Many will witness for the first time a new monarch take thee oath to ‘maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as the law established in England’.

Having been sanctified, the sovereign will then be presented with a jewelled sword and the golden spurs – the symbol of chivalry – and the armills – golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom.

He will put on the Robe Royal of gold cloth and will be presented with the orb, the coronation ring on the fourth finger of his right hand, the sceptre and the rod.

Then Charles, sitting in King Edward’s Chair which was made in 1300 and has been used by every monarch since 1626, will be crowned by the Archbishop with St Edward’s Crown, with the congregation shouting out ‘God Save the King’.

After a blessing, the King will go to his throne and be ‘lifted up into it by the archbishops and bishops, and other peers of the kingdom’.

The archbishop, royal blood princes – likely to include the Prince of Wales – and senior peers will then pay homage to the monarch by placing their hands between the King’s and swearing allegiance, touching the crown and kissing the King’s right hand.

The Queen Consort will also be crowned in similar and simpler ceremony and take her place on a throne.

The Duke of Norfolk, who organised the Queen’s funeral, will have the role of staging the King’s coronation.

While there are concerns the King’s wishes for a stripped back ceremony would not do the Royal Family justice or would be a missed opportunity to showcase Britain on the world stage, there are others who would be unhappy at the sight of such pomp and circumstance in the current economic climate.

Royal author Robert Lacey told BBC News: ‘Will Britain, at a time of homelessness and restricted benefits and energy prices going up, really cheer to the rafters the sight of a head of state riding in a golden coach? ‘There are others who will say, ‘That’s just what we want’.’

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and the Duke of Edinburgh after the coronation on June 2, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II riding with the Duke of Edinburgh in the State Coach through Trafalgar Square on the way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for her coronation on June 2, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Coronation dress in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace after her coronation in June 1953

Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II), Princess Margaret and King George VI after his coronation on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London on May 12, 1937

The then Duke and Duchess of York in a carriage on The Mall leaving for Westminster Abbey, for the Coronation ceremony, after which they became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on May 12, 1937

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with their daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose after the coronation of The Duke of York as King George VI on May 12, 1937 

Soldiers from various infantry and cavalry regiments of the Indian Army seated with members of the British public on the Queen Victoria Memorial on The Mall on the afternoon of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937

 

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth after the coronation of the Duke of York as King George VI on May 12, 1937

Social media users ask ‘when is the bank holiday?’ after date announcement 

With the announcement that King Charles III’s coronation will take place on a Saturday, many people have been left wondering whether there will be a bank holiday to mark the event. 

There was a bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral last month, as that was held on a Monday, but plans for a bank holiday for Charles’s coronation have not been confirmed yet.

However, anyone hoping for any extra time off might be disappointed with the Mirror reporting ministers have agreed it’s ‘highly unlikely’ there will be a bank holiday. 

The disappointment has been tangible for some, with users on social media venting their frustration. 

@shanss6_ wrote: ‘Charles’ coronation is on a Saturday? Charlie come on man what’s this? No cheeky bank holiday.’

@clndnl added: ‘Coronation on a Saturday?? Where’s the bank holiday spirit Charles.’

@_Mxarzz said: ‘Charles coronation is on a Saturday??? What a scam I want a bank holiday smh, then again I’ll probably be working that day too.’

@elleturpitt wrote: ‘Did King Charles seriously screw us out of an extra Bank Holiday?’

While @spiropyran said: ‘They’ve put Charles’ coronation on a Saturday to avoid a bank holiday COWARDS.’ 

When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 there was a carnival of celebration as millions rejoiced in the display which provided a morale boost to a nation on its knees after the war.

For a day, street parties banished the hardship of post-war rationing and shortages, and even atrocious, unseasonal weather could not dampen the enthusiasm.

People began to bed down in the streets of London as early as 48 hours before Tuesday June 2 1953, just to make sure they had a standing place to watch the Queen pass by.

By Monday evening, in pouring rain and driving wind, half a million people were already lining the procession route.

The public were not the only ones making preparations.

In a tribute, Charles – now King – paid to his mother on her 80th birthday, he recalled the night before the big day when he was four years old.

‘I have vivid memories of the coronation; of my mother coming to say goodnight to my sister and me while wearing the crown so that she could get used to its weight on her head before the coronation ceremony; of thousands of people gathered in The Mall outside Buckingham Palace chanting ‘We want the Queen’ and keeping me awake at night,’ he said.

Despite initial reservations, the Queen eventually agreed to the TV cameras being present in Westminster Abbey to capture the event.

Licence holders doubled from one and a half million to three million in anticipation and many people rented a set for the day.

An estimated 27 million people in Britain alone watched the coronation live on their black and white televisions and the images were beamed around the world.

At Buckingham Palace after the ceremony, the Queen, wearing her crown, and Philip appeared on the balcony with the other members of the royal family.

Their children, Charles and Anne, were greeted with great excitement by the crowds.

In her broadcast address to the nation the same evening, the young Queen thanked the public for their support.

All of you, near or far, have been united in one purpose. It is hard for me to find words in which to tell you of the strength which this knowledge has given me,’ she said.

She added: ‘I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine.

‘Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.’

The night came to an end as hundreds of thousands on Victoria Embankment watched a spectacular coronation fireworks display.

Organisers and royals will be hoping for a similarly effusive display of affection from the public in less than seven months when the King is crowned.

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